#066 – Drones In A Box with Percepto's Dor Abuhasira

welcome to commercial drones FM the podcast that explores the commercial drone industry the people who power it and the concepts that drive it I'm your host Ian Smith hey everybody Ian here coming at you recording from the drone deploy office in Chile sunny San Francisco California and today our guest is door abu heceta who's the CEO at percept oh I think I got your name right it wasn't the perfect prank but welcome to the show door really happy to have you thanks a lot and really happy to be here excellent so let's first off let's let's tell some people about percept oh so what is percept oh you know tell us a little bit like what's your elevator pitch for percept oh well we'll an end-to-end solution for a drone in a box Solutions is we discussed earlier it basically means that we provide a drawn in a box the base station and a drone that can come out of this mission base station and come back to it with the goal that you deploy this box somewhere and instead of having a pilot's on site you just connected a cloud and you manage this drone operation scheduling a mission data from the cloud for purposes of security routine safety routines and inspection so this is basically the future of the drone industry I surely hope so well I believe it is so I've talked about drones in a box quote-unquote a lot I don't it's not the most elegant name but it's very descriptive drone lives in a box presumably charged by solar panels or whatever it's hooked up to and it just does its scheduled mission every single day or multiple times a day potentially so that's awesome you're the first company that has this type of technology that's like commercially available on the show so really appreciate that so yeah tell us a little bit about the history of the company then and you know where was offended when and kind of why did you create this company or the CEO yeah of CO and a panel of three people co-founding team so we were founded in 2014 as a January 2014 and we're based out of Israel still well we basically founded the company when we realized that the drones were building for fun are not that far from the drones that's my co-founder Rivera's I was building in his company work for a big defense Drummle factor and in terms of capabilities they were not that different than the drones there was something for a big you know chunks of dollars and so we thought that there is a way to innovate and capitalize on this kind of new technology emerging in different verticals the team was very technical so my background I'm electrical engineer and and I in the background from Hardware work for a big system communication communication company in Israel called ECI telecom basically the Israeli Cisco Raviv he's a mechanical engineer and he works in big German factory also also fly planes so he's ray Israeli Air Force pilot and we had we added another technical co-founder called said he blundered who I knew from school just knew he's the smartest guy I know well I'm gonna join to any company and kind of build and he was studying computer vision in Tel Aviv University and in expert in any software that you can imagine even though most of his career was in semiconductor and we set up to build new technology of real-time AI in computer vision for drones without really being sure what the application will be in 2013 and as time went by I think what we realize is that drone space was lacking in applications the commercial space looked amazing like blue ocean so many applications so much opportunity but basically it was hard to build technology for you know just you know a market didn't exist yet and so pretty pretty fast NSA we decided that we gonna focus on delivering an end-to-end solution and today we are a solution provider that is still based on real-time computer vision and I but we offer the customer the full solution for drone in the box yeah so you kind of pivoted from initially identifying there was going to be a market for computer vision and all these analytics and stuff and then you found like the medium in which to deliver that would be drones exact resume ibly awesome and so the goal of the company then so I want to kind of talk about first well your you said what's your background specifically actually before percept though how where did you come from so uh like I said telecommunication it's basically big big system that's at the backbone of our network I'm an R&B guy but you know you deal with manufacturing and you deliver those big kind of hardware software products to clear one customers and I think my expertise was actually building big systems I was also doing my master in computer vision when started a company but the expertise is more in the hardware side and when we found the company I ended up being a CEO okay cool and what kind of industries is this for then so there's a lot of I guess the the other kind of drones in a box companies or the marketing that you see around it is usually focused on something with like you know it may be a secure site like a construction site or a mining or potentially like a power plant or something I mean how do you guys envision this and where have you focused your products to which industries rather are is this focus for so when you consider our net box solution it's not for industries that need a one-off solution and if you look at insurance or even more fragmented industries like I seen agriculture and filming of course we you see I think today more commercial work with the kind of the current drones value chain of people find egi and doing that it's based on them I think that the on-site systems are here to serve different needs or to or to kind of open up new verticals so if you think about it today if there is a work that is 24/7 let's say security or any kind of a inspection or safety routines that are needed to be done 24/7 drones are not really effective way to do it because you still have an operator there 24/7 and so the on-site approach when when you look at those missions are are just they make more sense the reason that you see them going to mining energy or than gas and all those industries that I think today of are using drawn in a very limited way they try to do it whether they're not doing a very good job capitalizing with them is that those companies they have a really big need and those systems are still more expensive and then it makes sense in terms of ROI and also when you look at the drone in a box I think you want to cover an area it's not like if you think about a telephone pole maybe it doesn't make sense to have a base station in it's the telephone antenna but if think about an energy site where you have security and so many assets together that you can offer the amount of value that you can offer with an on-site system just so much bigger than the lasers and solutions and this is why you see those companies focusing on those let's talk about the hardware so I was on the website earlier stocking you guys before the interview and it looks like one of the sensors that's actually on the drone well first of all let's talk about the drone it's a quadcopter it has a name I forget what is this power the sparrow sparrows a quadcopter it lives in this box well yeah tell us about the drone the sensor and then the box that it lives in because that's super interesting this is something that most companies don't have they don't have this box and so yeah but let's hear it so I must say that the entire concept of drone in a box it's more than actually having the box it's having the entire kind of a approach in software supports a drone it is actually integrated in the way you know this facility operates in a way that is both similar sorna disturbing for the people working there but also effective for the people operating it so there's a lot of work on making it kind of be be a product other than having the box itself you know what I mean the drone Hardware the first requirement is it actually it's gonna be robust enough to be outdoor for a few years and I think this the first those the requirements for those drones then any other conundrum that you have today that are mainly built to be in the back of your truck when you go somewhere those drones are deployed in kind of harsh environments and they need to work there for a long time so it's the first differentiator specifically in our drone again we were focused being real-time in computer vision capabilities to these drones and inside you'll find nvidia TX family processor that is is there for this purpose and it's kind of the core of all the application we add to the normal kind of drone flight control you know capabilities so this is our basic offering the payload itself it's also the basic offering include both thermal camera and high-resolution camera because we are 24/7 solution so you can have day and night kind of value that you provide because usually not just daytime solution and in the base station it's there to charge the drone and some companies replace the batteries and shelter the drone I think where our approach is that the hardware kind of a hassle or complexity should be as simple as possible and just make it as simple as easy as possible to deploy on the site and solve all the hard problems on a software on top of it and how you manage the drone itself so the basic base station itself its main role there is charging and maintaining the drone does it have is it fully self-contained like could you just kind of take this box and drop it somewhere in the middle of nowhere and have the drone be fully powered I mean what I'm getting at is are there solar panels charging it or can you just add solar panels basically and like plug those in if that was the choice of power I think the leather is that is the is the right way to approach it again no need to add complexity of solar panels if most most customers will not use it basically you when you deploy our our joining a box solution you need to have power very simple power a plug will do and you get a have network usually and if you need this client that need to get LTE on a solution or solar panel solution these can be tailored for this project but it doesn't have to be part of your solution that make it complex for everyone else that that can deliver this type of a infrastructure and so it is connected to a network because then this kind of ties directly into the software so I imagine it's connected to the network so that you can use the cloud-based software to schedule the drone control it kind of have like a Mission Control area so can you tell us about the the software a little bit is this is this purely used for just controlling when you know scheduling the drone and planning the missions or how to power the companies using this so first of all I'll say that in terms of connecting to the network both the drone and the base station or connect to network so even sorry the drum by itself you have LTE and you are all the drones are connected to the cloud management software okay so that's embedded in the drum and lt mode button nice and and it's a the software the cloud management software that it's like you think about it in a cloud very easy to integrate and operate that you use to manage the entire fleet of drones in your site so if manageable side by side if you have a site in Houston and another site in San Jose you'll manage them on different kind of a screens but through the same system and the drones in a single site will work together this episode of commercial drones FM is brought to you by FLIR pretty much everyone in the commercial drone world knows about FLIR's thermal imaging technologies and may even have a basic understanding of how their sensors work at commercial drones FM we think this technology is deserving of the spotlight to reveal some of the incredible things thermal imaging drones can accomplish drones equipped with thermal imagers offer a way to see the world from a different perspective which can help identify infrastructure problems locate missing people and increase safety and efficiency across a variety of industries the value of thermal imaging for commercial drone operations is undeniable so I want to use this podcast as a platform to dive deep into the world of heat and seek out the best practices and the unique use cases that make thermal imaging sensors the most drone ready payload for commercial drone applications right next to RGB cameras so join us over the coming months as we invite FLIR and their customers into our studio to discuss the technical and practical uses of their groundbreaking efforts and aerial thermal imagery this episode of commercial drones FM is brought to you by Devron UAS Devron UAS offers enterprise drone services for farmland across North America I recently spoke with bond well one of Devin's largest customers so my name is Jennifer Thompson I work for bond well America's long life we're a vegetable processor bondo is a very large company with 54 plants in the world here in North America we have 11 plants doing frozen and canned vegetables so naturally I wanted to know how is devran helping one of the largest vegetable processors in the world by using drone technology so we used everyone to service and support our precision agricultural needs for us it's not easy to have our own iron fly our own drones to gather crop data so Devron is ready and available to work for us when needed we fly thousands of acres and managing those acres it just works very easily with them in our fast-paced growing season they're not just providing data they're helping to solve issues and find solutions well that's very important work but what's your favorite crop to eat my favorite crop to eat a sweet cord I will eat speak corn 365 days of the year I'm not sure if I've ever eaten sweet corn yet that was monitored by drone to learn more visit Devron UAS comm slash drones fm and see for yourself how devran is leading collaboration and agriculture with drones that's Dever on UAS comm slash drones fm ok back to the show gotcha and so the the actual missions that the drone is performing then so is it doing any like photogrammetry mapping is it mainly doing inspection is it just doing surveillance like can it be tied into other api's I guess like if you have I'm just imagining I mean this is not an industrial example that I'm gonna give but maybe you have like a nest camera or something you know like a an internet-connected camera that can detect there's motion in an area and then maybe that API signal can be sent to the percept oh drone and then the sparrow launches and then it goes and investigates I mean is that the kind of level of integration we're talking here and then what kind of missions can drone perform so definitely there it can indeed at that level I think when you think in security and we look at security is kind of at the basic cleared you provide because you mentioned serving and serving a thing if all you need is serving probably getting some service once a month or so is enough for you and no reason to deploy an on-site system but if you deployed for security and you need 24/7 security now we already have a drone in your sight maybe you can do serving with this drone and not calling in in a service the type of mission would think this was your second question think about security you have either patrol or respond to alert and today perceptor is is being offered by the biggest acuity integrator in the States Tyco the today's they colleges JCI and type of solution that they offer is is integrated with other sensors so you can have a camera or an active fence or even a radar solution you have so much so many new technology emerging in different spaces and many time we'll talk specifically on radar false-positive is a big issue and I draw that is by itself getting colocation make sure that you you see what the alert was about a new manage this event effectively isn't is a great way to to manage you know big areas yeah being connected to all those other systems that are already existing I mean that's what you hear constantly that would that's one of the biggest challenge challenges for the drone industry right now is just connecting to the systems of record of all these different companies in these in these different industries and I think connected drones specifically connected to the network to the Internet are incredibly powerful and it makes all of these things possible it's so easy for the systems then to be able to talk to each other and then take actions based on that so it's leading us more towards this autonomous future you know you mentioned on your website as well the cost-saving solution so maybe with an example of security or something or one of your most common use cases you know how are these drone deployments you know they're without a pilot without a direct pilot controlling the drone how are those saving companies that that use the perceptive solution what kind of cost savings are we talking here so basically there are a few kinds if you think about a security solution let's say Tyco the security integrator and they have a I think seven billion yearly security integration business so they build a seven billion worth of business of just deploying new security equipment and maintaining and install it and if you get a large area in many of the big facilities that we mentioned and that's when you factor in site mining you have a small area they discover with cameras and ninety percent of the area that you're not managing with any cameras because it's large areas so if you want to just cover an area where you have visibility but you didn't made the commitment of deploying phantom cameras every 200 meters so sorry my metric is meters so your cost fighting is on actually deployment equipment some companies they can decide that's instead of having a personnel patrolling which is not an effective they want to reduce the amount of personnel again never to zero but it can be some time replacement to personnel in different facilities and it really I think those two areas when you think about security when you go into safety for many of those companies the main driver I think will be reducing the risk because risk is a big factor when you deal with those complicated sites like an oil gas refinery or or energy facility and then inspection I think the unique part of inspection is that there is an opportunity to not only reduce costs but also increase productivity and increase productivity is something that you really have to build into the side kind of operation so it takes longer but when you are able to increase productivity for a power plant or in decimal in factoring site the budget you are touching are much bigger in cost saving I'll give you the less example but I think it's also interesting one we work with a company steel manufacturing company and they have a huge site it's acres and acres of storage facility where it's 20 years old and they they got water dripping into their warehouse in some places and if they didn't notice they got their goods damaged and having damaged the damage caused but you know a few hundred thousand dollars just for a licking roof problem I didn't have any operation of maintaining the roof the couldn't even send people due to inspect it because they were not designed to it when they were built and and they try to build withdrawn operation to to just oversee a simple application sort of inspection that can actually save them few hundred thousand dollar per year if they better maintain the roof so when you go to those heavy industrial facilities you find that even the simplest application can really save a lot of money yeah and putting a camera in place is like you mentioned a camera that can just move around and go wherever needs to so I guess you know with your background or with your co-founders background in computer vision and machine learning then you guys are I'm imagining developing some specific algorithms and training data in order to kind of identify these specific areas where the customer could save money or you know only maybe send an alert to the customer if X is is wrong or it doesn't meet the certain factors and can you tell us a little bit maybe some of the ways you guys are using your backgrounds in computer vision so definitely this is what we are doing we are trying to build more application based on on our access to clients in our ax the data on those sites and I think one of the unique value proposition that you have when you have a drone in a box solution installed that you have an access for 24/7 data on those sites and you can really start thinking about aerial data in a new way when you're when you're using it this way in terms of exact applications I'm not saying I think it's too too long but we do focus that if it is on board and it's like a real-time computer vision or AI we see it as course part of kind of embedded into what we do in some cases if it's kind of a post processing application at the heads value if it's unique data we might do it ourselves if it's not unique data like serving that you have a lot of companies they're doing here and other applications that are just available we are partnering with other companies and just offering solutions to had basically add value to our clients that makes sense yeah and so what do you think then I mean in the US which is where my most of my regulatory expertise is based in we have issues we can't really deploy these drones in a box because the regulations simply do not allow it because you need you know that's a beyond visual line of sight operation and having a pilot there will all the trends deployed kind of defeats the whole the economic purpose and the efficiency gains that you're getting from this drone in a box so what are some of the biggest challenges with with these drones in a box with the technology that you're developing and is it is regulatory issues one of them and does this affect you guys in Israel you know how are you guys looking at this as as far as you know where you can make a difference and and you know what's holding you back the most so again but Alishan is pretty much the most or the biggest kind of a aerobic I think this industry had the reason you don't have more solution is because a regulation was not set to to solve those Parliament it's not a u.s. problem it's it's everywhere not even the West so there are some geographies that it much easier for us to work and we that but our focus is actually us in Europe in terms of customers I think we got to a point that customers are too interested in our moving forward we got to a point now that the FA he sets at the part 1:07 where he made it easy for drone services business to offer a solution but he also laid kind of the foundation to say how you're going to do waivers and how you're gonna start working about the envisioned amount of site a solution which is the main limitation for the drone in unbox solution what you've seen in the last few months with the FA that they are proving more operation based on observer that are not trained and I think this is actually offering a good enough solution for many of our clients in how they can maintain a B envision Aleph site operation it's big part of the reason we chose to work with energy alingas and mining I think the rest as well because it's looking at kind of access control areas where the customers is looking to manage his asset and also you can in most cases it's kind of remote from where people are living so it's it's more stirring in that sense yeah so there's like a kind of inherent level of safety rather than doing this in a you know big metropolitan city area it's kind of sometimes out in the middle of nowhere restricted areas that's already very controlled so there's you know just it's kind of a safer environment in general then yeah so I think the regulator will always respond last you got to have that the clients gonna need an action-movie forward and it gotta have the technology ready to be demonstrated and only then basically a regulator can actually move forward but just as we've seen you know part 107 got in here after a few years we had those three exemptions and it let the FAA sometimes to learn what people are doing and what makes sense I think now we're at the learning curve for beyond national off-site and one of the trend that I'm counting on moving forward is revelation in barriers are getting lower and I think the way for us enabled the regulator to actually lower those those bars his demonstrated areas where it's effectively working and and it's not only about technology it's also about the method of operation and how you find the right techniques and the right use of this technology to the place where you feel it's safe the customer feels safe and they fake and can also agree that this is safe yeah totally agree one of the things that I feel is very important you know and some people will want to know because there might be potential customers or partners what can you give us like a range of cost on one of these perceptive units are like a deployment and maybe you can explain like I'm sure it might differ by scenario but is this like a direct purchase or is this kind of like a leasing of the the sparrow and the drone in the box and and everything how does that work and how does percept I'll handle that so clients should should consider the solutions are not like buying a DJI phantom4 I'll give you a price range without commits to any number it's a $5,000 sorry it's broken I spoke over you how many sorry few tens of thousands 3,000 and and the way to get it is different from every company that that I see we work both direct and food channels but usually through channels I mentioned here one of them which is a big one in the States and in any case there is a level of involvement of us in this system I think we are the drone experts and we deliver a solution that we have to vote for for three years so we do have a partly a list of the deal is leasing or some type of software licensing yeah I mean it makes sense not going into all the details of how you buy perceptive people will have to contact us on that that's absolutely yeah so speaking of that and and kind of you know in order to wrap up the conversation and we'll get to that the way to contact you guys what do you so what do you think the future is here I mean you guys are kind of blazing the way blazing the trail here towards you know autonomous drones that in a box it doesn't matter they're living in a box now it's like this is just like this the you know the boxes as you mentioned before it's like a means to an end it's not oh there's not always gonna be this box it might not be needed maybe if someone tries to grab the drone you know in the future it's gonna shock them or something you know it's not gonna have to be in a box but you know the future of this technology it's hard to to me it's kind of hard to say right now in my mind but where do you see this in like the next 5-10 years do you just see that regulations might be just finally kind of like really embracing this and so maybe five years will finally just see a lot of drones that are in boxes and maybe even beyond that what do you see happening here and and how is this gonna affect the drone industry as a whole well again I'm a big believer in this gonna affect the drone industry but also society in a sense five years timeframe I think it's definitely a time what we're gonna see regulation that is making much easier to do many different drone applications the way I see it and I think you also said it the drone in a box concept basically our drone working with that without an operator is the way the future is going to work and and I think we are talking of the application right now with deliveries is gonna be huge I'm sure that it is gonna be huge and we're gonna be in a future when we get some services out of drone you know we order but the press is gonna use it the police department if you want to get a sound visual on different type of urban areas I think drone can can help in many other ways not only in deliveries and the reason that we're so focused on the commercial application I just think that we're gonna see that it there first because there are area with the are is very high and again it's easier to maintain an operation then it is in here in San Francisco so the three trends I I'm assuming costs are gonna go down because of hardware regulation barriers are gonna go down again they're gonna get always last we gotta have everything figure out for them to actually move but they're gonna kind of they gonna follow because they're already doing that today and and also we're gonna system standards really standards coming in think today DJI is kind of D standard kind of by uh you know reality yeah and you're gonna see other things getting standardized and and and then services just gonna get more efficient in that sense exactly cool well guys thank you so much for listening and thank you so much door for joining us thanks laugh a heavy yeah it's it's my pleasure it's really cool to learn about your perspectives on these drones in the box and like kind of the future of girona autonomy taking the human out of the loop we've kind of talked about that a little bit before on the show but in order to contact percept oh you can visit their website I just pulled it up here it's percept ODOT Co Co not calm just percept OCO and then you can follow percept o on twitter at perceptive drones and facebook.com slash percept out drones and while you're at it you can follow the podcast on twitter at drones podcasts go ahead and check out the website at commercial drones fm releasing episodes bi-weekly so come back in a couple weeks you'll hear the next episode we'll have another cool guest to share with you and so before we go ahead and cut off the Mike's door do you have any last parting thoughts to leave us with as we go ahead and play the swan song here no I think we'd such an exciting topic for me I think for everyone and I think what's people what people need to know it it it is available right now it is happening you have not only startups to contact to you we work with again the biggest integrators if you can imagine and the biggest line that you can imagine here in the states that are looking to integrated right now and if you are this type of clients please contact us sounds good guys yeah that's one of the things is that this is happening it may be on a smaller scale right now but I first see this specific sector of drone operations being one of the fastest growing as regulations continue to catch up so thanks again door everyone that was door ABI Abu Hafsah there we go yeah I have to go look at the spelling in order to get it right CEO of percept oh we're gonna go ahead now we're gonna cut off the mics thanks everyone for listening Cheers bye [Applause] [Applause]

What is a drone in a box and why is it important?

A drone-in-a-box is essentially a drone that lives inside of a box (stay with me here) and the box is deployed in a specific area, out in the wild, for an extended period of time. The box may have a power source hooked up to it or use solar panels to store power for recharging the drone. The drone, which, of course, lives in the box, will make scheduled flights and fly out of the box automatically to fly a mission and then return to charge its batteries when the mission is complete. Rinse and repeat as desired.

This is “getting the human out of the loop.”

Percepto is an Israeli company who manufacture a full drone-in-a-box system. Dor Abuhasira is the CEO of Percepto, an Israeli company.

Dor joins Ian to discuss the technology behind automating these types of drones and what the future holds for drones in a box.

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